If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will
If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will

If it be your will



Lyrics submitted by Fistan

"If It Be Your Will" as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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If It Be Your Will song meanings
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15 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment:I've interpreted this song as one person's struggle to accept the fate of another... It makes me think of the times I have sat next to someone I cared about deeply, watched helplessly as an illness filled their body and I was left with my questioning prayers, yearning for understanding for what was to come. Prayers that sought to give space for the worsening of a condition and hope for a recovery. At these times, I've felt so inept that I have felt like the singer and like I am the broken hill. I have admitted that I know that I'm not the one who gets to decide who gets well and who dies, but on my knees, I am humble and open and willing to serve to ease the path for the one I love...

    It is a song that strips away all the tangible things that are important to me on a regular day and leaves me bare, facing the magnitude of life and death.
    shanaraeburnson March 18, 2011   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaning:I believe that this is a song from someone who is connected with the basic spiritual principles behind all religions, surrendering to the will of the divine to guide his life, allowing it to unfold in divine order, and acknowledging the need for healing here on this earth.
    Taicaon May 04, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:LC has stated this is a song he wrote for his zen master or roshi.
    kconwayon February 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Cohen sings of his nearly complete subjection towards the will of another. If the will tells him to be silent, he will be silent, if the will tells him he can sing, he will sing. He has great admiration for the will of whoever he is singing about (be it Zen master or a woman or God), as, if allowed to express his true voice ("if a voice be true"), he will sing in praise of him/her from the imperfect landscape, "the broken hill". The person whose will Cohen obliquely praises also has great power, as his/her mercy can redeem the burning hearts in hell, under the condition of course that it is willed. Cohen's great hope in this will, which is presumably a human one, almost borders on praying to a supernatural being, one who can "make us well" if we devote ourselves to it and pray and sing to it. I say his subjection is "nearly" complete because he still urges the will to act on behalf of the suffering, cajoling it in song. The will has the power to "end this night" of the darkness of the human condition, in which people are dressed in only dirty "rags of light" which are fragmented and not fully whole and illuminated. The will at once is something to be a subject of, and something to pray to for spiritual sustenance that it may be capable of bestowing.
    jmax1983on August 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I think this song is Jesus talking to God during his crucifixion
    "If it be your will
    That I speak no more
    And my voice be still
    As it was before"
    the broken hill is Golgatha where he was crucified
    it is very rugged and rocky
    "Let the rivers fill"
    may be refering to the flood
    since Jesus died for our sins
    "If it be your will
    To make us well"
    "Let your mercy spill
    On all these burning hearts in hell"
    "All your children here"
    acesson March 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:This song is about an angel who has been damned to hell by God. Regardless, the angel continues to sing God's praises. Leonard Cohen is genius.
    el6133on April 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:yea, i don't know much about leonard cohen, but this is problem my favorite songs of his, of what i've heard. that being said, the two latter ideas about god or angels or what have you seem a bit silly to me.

    personally, upon first hearing this song, the immediate idea i had of the song was maybe about unreciprocated love or a soured relationship, but the main perspective still having adoration for other person & that even though the other person does not feel the same way, the singer will still bend for them because they care for them.

    but this was my interpretation.
    __geiston August 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:If the author doesn't say who he is talking about is because he doesn't want to make it explicit and leave it to the listener own personal interpretation. That makes the piece much more powerful.

    In my case I though of God. At some point he starts talking about us, so I think he is talking about someone that call have effects on many and not just one person he loves.
    trackon November 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I'm not sure when Cohen first got into Buddhism - the song was released in 1984 (on "Various Positions") so is not apparently about Cohen's teacher at Mount Baldy (the monastery he entered later, in 1996). The motifs seem clearly more Biblical than Buddhist - and compare "The Book of Mercy", released in the same year (1984), and full of clearly Biblical references. Cohen still identifies as an observant Jew, and sees this as compatible with Buddhism. This may be the first place to look. It doesn't seem plausible that the "you" in the song is his master - for one thing, while the concept of "will" in Buddhism is complicated but following the will of another seems an odd emphasis to make in relation to a religion which promotes the renunciation of personal desire: if the "will" in question is worth following so observantly then attaching it to the teacher seems somehow perverse in context. In the Judeo-Christian tradition and related to God, on the other hand, it seems entirely sensible.

    This said, there are parts of the song which do seem entirely appropriate to Buddhism. In particular:
    - "If it be your will/To make us well";
    - "On all these burning hearts in hell" - this does not apparently relate to a metaphysical hell (in which case why "all these"?) - the idea appears to relate to human suffering in this world.
    - The last verse appears to incorporate themes of "loving-kindness" on the one hand (the first two lines) and "enlightenment" on the other. The Buddhist links are obvious.

    So: the song is not entirely Judeo-Christian but is not strictly Buddhist. Given that Cohen, famously, believes the two religious positions (in the sense in which he believes in them) to be compatible, this is not surprising. But what is the song about then? Simple submission?

    Partly, but not entirely - to my mind it is about the way he believes they interact. God's will is paramount in determining the range of possible actions, but "if there is a choice" then we wish God to "let [his] mercy spill", to relieve human suffering. This being said, if it isn't to be then it isn't to be. The references to submission equate to acceptance of reality rather than subservience: the options are to relieve suffering if we can, and to accept it if we cannot. Either way, in accordance with the Judeo-Christian tradition, we are adapting to a result that God has willed.

    I should add that I'm an atheist and I don't believe in any of this crap, but I think that's what the song is about.
    Someguy1400on February 23, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Leonard Cohen is my favorite lyricist.
    Antony Hegarty is my favorite vocalist.
    Antony singing Cohen was... sublime.

    This song has beautiful lyrics, although I don't completely understand them (but I don't think Cohen, as a poet, really wants his lyrics to be completely understood). To me, the song is about the speaker completely submitting himself (or herself) to someone the speaker admires enough to believe that he or she can heal emotionally wounded people simply by loving them; this someone could be a lover, teacher (master), or deity.

    Antony's rendition of this song was, as I said above, absolutely sublime. His voice adds emotion and depth that Cohen's voice can't approach, and it fits the song perfectly. I regret that it is difficult to find a recording of his performance that doesn't have an instrumental chunk cut out of it for an interview with Cohen that breaks up the magical flow of the song.
    HiOnMusicon May 17, 2010   Link

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